9 Texans among 61 IMB missionaries appointed in virtual sending service
June 11th, 2020 / By: Grace Thornton / comments
RICHMOND — When Brittany Lawrence told her mom she wanted to be a missionary, it didn’t surprise her the way Brittany thought it would.
“She said the Lord had been preparing her heart for me to be overseas since I was 5,” Brittany told the Southern Baptist TEXAN.
And now she and her husband, Cody, along with their 5-year-old daughter, are headed to help plant churches in Europe. The International Mission Board commissioned them and seven other Texans among 61 new missionaries in a virtual sending service June 9.
The service—originally planned as part of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando, which was cancelled because of COVID-19—featured a short message from IMB President Paul Chitwood, brief pre-recorded testimonies from all the appointees and a time of prayer for their future service.
Chitwood said he regretted not being able to gather in person with Southern Baptists but said he was glad they had the opportunity to use a “new and different way” to get to hear the stories of how God called these new missionaries.
“Throughout our 175-year history, Southern Baptists have maintained an uninterrupted witness among the nations, in spite of famines, wars, civil unrest and even—as we are experiencing right now—a pandemic,” he said. “We’re grateful God has continued to expand his kingdom and allowed us to join him in His work. And there is still work to do. That is why IMB is still sending Southern Baptist missionaries.”
Even though the service didn’t happen as planned, the Lawrences said the virtual service was a great opportunity to get together with a small group of friends and family to watch and pray together, as well as for members of their sending church—First Baptist in Benbrook—to watch at home too.
Todd Pylant, pastor of FBC Benbrook, said the church has had a “deep connection” with the Lawrences as they have pursued a path to missions work.
“It’s been fun to watch them develop. They’ve always been involved in missions,” Pylant said. “We are excited to get to continue to partner with them on the field too.”
Cody Lawrence said he’s eager to live out the call he feels God spoke directly to him through Isaiah 6 one day as he was reading in high school.
“In this part of Europe, it’s getting more and more secular, as it is in many places in the West,” he said. “We grew up having these kinds of conversations with our friends in high school and noticed that the world is headed in that direction. We know it will be hard work [serving in secular Europe], but they need the gospel.
The Lawrences’ sending service was the first since November 2018 to send out new missionaries to all nine affinity groups—American, Central Asian, Deaf, East Asian, European, Northern Africa and Middle Eastern, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Sub-Saharan African.
Like the Lawrences, Christopher and Julianna Williams—members of Grace Community Church in Glen Rose—are headed to Europe with their three children. During the service, Christopher shared that God called him to missions in high school while on a short-term trip to Argentina.
For Julianna, it was a little later.
“After my senior year in high school, I went on my first mission trip to Eastern Europe, unknowingly with my future in-laws,” she said. “That’s when God started to plant the seed in my heart to minister to the European peoples.”
Another Texan, Abigail Akins*, is headed to Central Asia.
“During my first overseas mission trip at 16, I felt the Lord asking me to prioritize my life around making his glory known among the nations,” she shared during the service. “Through many summer trips in college, international student ministry and having a church who faithfully prayed for the nations, the Lord grew in me a love for Muslims and confirmed my call to overseas ministry.”
And after spending two years there as a short-term missionary, she’s excited to be headed back “to continue to live out the 1 Thessalonians 2:8 idea of sharing not only the gospel but my life as well with my friends in Central Asia.”
To watch the service, visit vimeo.com/imbmissions.